Platte River IV
Big Platte Road to Indian Creek Road
☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
The final stretch of a wonderful river, this segment of the Platte has only a few of the riffles that the upstream sections are full of but the bluffs are no less spectacular or scenic. Plus, being so close to the confluence of the Mississippi, there’s a kind of energy to this trip that is unique and not felt in the upper stretches.
October 28, 2013
Rockville: ht/ft: 3.4 | cfs: n/a
We recommend this level.
Big Platte Road, Tennyson, Wisconsin
Banfield Bridge Recreation Area, Indian Creek Road
Time: Put in at 1:15p. Out at 3:45p.
Total Time: 2h 30m
Miles Paddled: 8.5
Wildlife: Bald eagles, blue heron, a beaver, muskrats, an alpaca, a handful of hawks, bulls and swans.
Time worth driving to: 1.5 hours.
It was finally time to give the downstream portion of the Platte its due, a segment I had been giving short shrift simply because the upper section gets more attention and if I am going to drive 1.5+ hours to paddle, I want to make sure it’s worthwhile. But there’s a website to maintain and information to share! So let it be known that this trip is indeed good, better than good, really. Again, not as dramatic or spectacular as Platte River III but a wonderful paddle in its own right. Actually, this would be perfect for beginners, with just a couple easy riffles, one small ledge but lots of pretty scenery to fall in love with paddling in the first place.
What we liked:
While all of the Platte River is intimate, this segment may well be the most private, as there are only two bridges to pass under. This is a calm part of the river, with fairly slow flow but the surrounding scenery is wonderful bluffs, woods and pastureland.
I don’t think I have ever come upon so many bald eagles either on a single paddle. One woodsy stretch in particular, featured no fewer than eight nests, with as many flying around as I inadvertently spooked them from their roosts. Another first during this trip was coming upon an alpaca in a herd of bulls. From a distance I saw something tall and actually assumed it was a human on horseback but the closer I came I realized that I was wrong. I don’t know how territorial or protective they are but this fellow was very interested in me. As soon as he spotted me he charged right up to the bank and stared me down. It was hard not to make direct eye contact, especially as I wanted to take a couple pictures of it but I knew I shouldn’t give off the impression that I was threatening or challenging it. I did deliberately look away and after a couple rather precarious moments it did too and then capered off somewhere else. “How far can they spit?”, I kept wondering…
The other thing worth mentioning is the part of this trip I thought I would like the least, the takeout. But just below the Highway 35 bridge the river swells to about 100’ wide, sprawling towards the mouth of the Mississippi, it ended up being terrifically pretty. There are hills everywhere, even though the foreground is pretty flat, reminding me more of New England than the Midwest. And despite the wideness of the river, the current was quite good, probably on account of the Little Platte River emptying into the main Platte about 75 yards upstream the Highway 35 bridge.
It was here too that I saw the swans, which was a real thrill. I did not, alas, have enough time to paddle the 3-mile roundtrip to the Mississippi and back, especially as the wind was whipping around at that point and it was a cloudy day in the mid-40s as it was. But this is totally doable and should be done! If nothing else, drive or bike down the road opposite the turnoff for Banfield Bridge park, it’s called Kress Lane and it goes as far as the end of land allows, giving you great views of the Mississippi River.
As previously mentioned, the color of the water had shades of emerald green to it, just one more element adding to the pretty of this trip. Lastly, the takeout at Banfield Bridge Recreation Area is a dream come true with an easy launch, tons of parking and a porta potty. What more can you ask for?
What we didn’t like:
Really, there isn’t anything. I can’t fault a segment of a river for not having some of the superlative features found on other segments of it.
If we did this trip again:
I would but definitely allow time to paddle into the Mississippi River.
Platte River Overview: Platte River Paddle Guide
Platte River I: Ellenboro to County Road B
Platte River II: Ellenboro to Platte Road
Platte River III: Platte Road to Big Platte Road
Platte River V: County Road A to Platte Road
Miles Paddled Video: Ellenboro to County Road B
Good People: Friends of the Platte River
Guide: Paddling Southern Wisconsin
Overview: Hunt Fish Camp
Overview: Wisconsin Guides
Wikipedia: Platte River